The potted plant slipped from my fingers and splattered dirt to the roots of the carpet. The broom made it worst. The vacuum clogged. My sister grabbed bleach. We scrubbed until the beige carpet turned platinum.
The stained didn’t go away with water. It lived under an old purple fringed rug that use to be in the bathroom. When we pulled the rug back to show our mom what happened she laughed, pressed her hand to her cheek and shook her head, “Why put a rug on it? It’s not going to go away.”
One cap of Clorox per gallon of water for scrubbing kitchen floors, disinfecting countertops, for sinks, bath tubs, and baseboards.
I soaked cotton balls in bleach and rubbed them against my cheeks, under my chin, poured a cupful into my bath water and scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed. There were no platinum streaks, no change in the darkness of my skin, but I remember the burn. I remember crying when my skin didn’t change. That lingers.
When I sit in front of my mirror, I remember the stain on the carpet, remember the bleach eating away the color, remember my mother tapping her cheek and shaking her head. Covering it won’t make it go away.
I stare at my skin, rub shea butter on it, allow it to be. It isn’t going anywhere. It isn’t a stain.
It is mine. It is what it is meant to be.